Need for program continues to grow
by Rachel Davis
Jan 09, 2013 | 1905 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SUMITON — Leneda Jones, founder of Backyard Blessings, spoke to the East Walker Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday at Lee’s Restaurant.

Backyard Blessings celebrates its third year of service today and currently serves more 400 students across the county. Last year, the program gave out 5,892 bags of food to area students. This year, that number has already increased to 6,064 bags at the halfway point of the school year.

The program began in East Walker, but this year it has grown to include 50 students at Cordova Elementary, 100 students at T.R. Simmons and 50 students at Memorial Park.

With the system already at capacity serving 100 students at Sumiton Elementary/Middle School and 100 at T.S. Boyd Elementary, those additions would have been impossible without the assistance of local churches, businesses and individuals.

Seven churches in Cordova banded together to make the program possible in that school. A church in Jasper that wished to remain anonymous committed to sponsor 100 students in the two Jasper schools. When the demand at T.R. Simmons exceeded the commitment, individuals, parents and businesses stepped up to sponsor the program for the additional 50 students.

“The people have just really come through to make this happen,” Jones said.

Backyard Blessings provides food for children who may not have food available to them at home. Jones started the program after finding that students in local area schools were totally dependant on the meals they received in the lunchroom for nourishment. That meant that they often went hungry on the weekends when they weren’t in school.

Now, each Friday afternoon, volunteers at the various schools place a discreet bag of self-serve foods in each child’s backpack so they don’t go hungry over the weekend. The food is purchased and donated by local businesses and individuals and the bags are packed by volunteers at the Sumiton Community Center.

Jones encouraged the Chamber members to consider hosting a food drive for the organization or choosing one of the nonprofit’s various sponsorship levels.

To make a donation, call Jones at (205) 544-9094 or mail a check to Backyard Blessings, P.O. Box 129, Sumiton, AL 35148.